Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence
Issue 10 - Evidence - Meeting of December 13, 2010
OTTAWA, Monday, December 13, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 4 p.m. to examine and report on
the national security and defence policies of Canada (Topic: Arctic sovereignty and security).
Senator Pamela Wallin (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: This is a meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for December 13,
2010. We have two witnesses today. We are a little pressed for time because the chamber is in special session tonight at
We will begin with two witnesses on the subject of Arctic sovereignty and security, and then we will have a brief in
camera meeting to consider our report on the proposed name change of the Maritime Command.
Our first witness today is appearing by video conference from Whitehorse, Yukon. He is The Honourable Dennis
Fentie, Premier of Yukon and host this year of the Northern Premiers' Forum. He has been a member of the legislative
assembly, an MLA, for Watson Lake since 1996 and the premier since 2002. His work background is in logging,
tourism, mining, trucking and fuel distribution — and he is also pleasant company at dinner. I was in the Yukon with
Senator Lang, and we all met and had a wonderful evening.
Do you have an opening statement that you would like to read first? If so, please go ahead.
Hon. Dennis Fentie, Premier of Yukon: Yes. It will be concise and as expeditious as possible.
I would like to begin by expressing my thanks and appreciation on behalf of the North for this opportunity to be a
witness before the committee on this important issue. I am sure we all understand that the North, the three territories,
comprise about 40 per cent of Canada's land mass and thousands of kilometres of coastline in conjunction with other
jurisdictions such as the State of Alaska. It is also a treasure trove of natural resources and has the potential for great
contribution to the nation.
I also want to pay, in particular, a special tribute to Prime Minister Harper and his government for focusing
attention on the North through this initiative. It has been a long time since we have experienced this kind of attention
by our national government. The last example that I can think of was under Prime Minister Diefenbaker's focus on the
North, which resulted in the building of the Dempster Highway.
I think it is fair to say that the North has long played an important role in helping Canada assert its sovereignty. I
think the best way to sum that up, although there are examples of how that is rooted in history and international law
and the presence of the Inuit and First Nations people in the North, Arctic sovereignty is indeed asserted through our
Northern people and our communities. That is our front line.
Though we have examples in the past of how Canada has involved the North in security and sovereignty — I think of
the early warning system and the role we play in NORAD today — we are indeed facing new challenges with the ever-
changing environmental and global situation, the demands for energy and mineral resources and the transportation
networks that could soon be shipping through the Arctic passage, or the Northwest Passage. Of course, the increasing
military interest with the U.S. and the security concerns post-9/11 and other examples are bringing even more interest and
pressure to bear in Northern Canada.
The first point I would like to make is an obvious one. Part of Arctic sovereignty and security must include healthy,
sustainable communities maintaining that front-line footprint in the North. They are a definite contributor to Arctic
sovereignty and security. However, so too is the investment in infrastructure, which is critical. Investing in transportation
infrastructure, energy infrastructure and communication infrastructure, investing in tidewater and deep-sea ports, for
example, all combine to contribute to the nation's priority issue of security and sovereignty in the North.
Let us remember also that we should enhance such things as our Canadian Rangers, along with our army and air
cadets. These are fine examples of others that can contribute to this important initiative. Part of that exists already in
the North and the Yukon, and it is important that we ensure that the rangers and our cadet corps continue to be
It is important also to invest in the capacity of Northern peoples, which will make a further contribution to Arctic
sovereignty and security. Much of that is built into the three territories' pan-Northern vision, which we have presented
to Prime Minister Harper's government and are pleased to say that we are seeing some of that input surfacing in this
overall national vision for the North.
We also want to welcome the fact that an Arctic foreign policy includes our role and involvement in such things as
the Arctic Council and the Northern Forum, which, as the chair pointed out, we will be co-hosting. These are areas
that can further contribute to Canada's interests.
Of course, one of our most obvious challenges is the establishment of search and rescue, where we have a much more
immediate response. We have established, on the ground here in the North, that important facet contributing to
I know you have questions. Once again, thank you for this opportunity. I want to close by saying that this federal
initiative, the Arctic sovereignty and security strategy, is all about nation-building. Nation-building, from the North's
perspective, includes a federation from sea to sea to sea.
Senator Dallaire: Premier, you are speaking for the Yukon, of course, but you also indicated your other two
colleagues. With respect to the population in the North, apart from the Aboriginal communities that we know are
exploding in population, are there initiatives to move more people to the North, attract people who are not necessarily
of European background? Is it your plan to see that population increase as you indicated, the communities being one
of the pillars of our sovereignty in the North and the effectiveness of our sovereignty in that area?
Mr. Fentie: Yes. Senator Dallaire, thank you for the question. I want to begin by qualifying that.
Although I am here representing the three territories in the North, I certainly do not speak for Premier Roland and
Premier Aariak. They may have some views also. I am here to represent the North in general.
As far as the growing population is concerned, it is true that we have a large percentage of Aboriginal people in our
population. It is much more prevalent in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. It is a smaller percentage in the
Yukon. Population growth is happening today in the North. It is being driven by the need to build capacity. We need
professionals and medical people. We need teachers, engineers and other skilled people to complement what we are
doing in the North because we are developing and growing. We have a growing population, and it is quite diverse.
Another example is that we have part of the nominee program that the nation has proceeded with, so we do have
other than Europeans coming to the North. That would include investment from China, people from the Philippines
and so on. There are many initiatives and a major effort to grow our population, contribute to building healthy,
sustainable communities and meet the capacity challenges that we have.
Senator Dallaire: To be specific, if I may, what is the federal government's role in assisting to move a more
significant population into the northern regions? As an example, in your region, we have seen some actions with the
Aboriginal people and that has not necessarily always been positive. In the 1930s, we saw that in Abitibi, in the
northwest of Quebec, where they got involved with the provincial government.
Is there a specific plan of action to move more of a population base, with all the different elements of a population,
demographics of a population, into the northern region and in particular into the Yukon?
Mr. Fentie: I am not sure if you are speaking about immigration or initiatives within the major disciplines required
in the North, so I am a little unclear about your question. However, I can point to the fact that, at this stage, the
initiatives are centred on bringing people in from offshore, for example, through the nominee programs. That does
involve immigration. It includes investment in priority infrastructure, such as energy, housing and other forms of
infrastructure. It includes arrangements with us in the area of labour market and training, development and investment
It includes, by the way, a significant focus on implementing the treaties and the land claims agreements, because that
is part of creating certainty that will help you attract people to the North. With the brief amount of time, though I
could provide many more details, that is the best I can do on short notice.
Senator Lang: Just so that Senator Dallaire and other members on the committee know, the unemployment rate in the
Yukon is the lowest in the country. It is 4.5 per cent. There is a nominee program there that has been sponsored through
the Government of Canada. We have over 400 people who have come from other parts of world to take up some of the
employment opportunities there. It shows how well things are going up in our part of the world.
I would like your comments on a couple of areas. One has to do with sovereignty, and that is the boundary between
the Yukon and Alaska. As you know, there is an outstanding boundary dispute between the U.S. and Canada under
negotiation at present. Perhaps you could tell us the importance of those negotiations and what it means to Canada and
specifically to the Yukon?
Mr. Fentie: The negotiations with the Americans on the boundary is essential in determining our sovereignty as we
want to establish it, especially offshore, and it includes the issue of tremendous possibilities in resource, as well as other
cultural elements, especially in fisheries and so on. In establishing that boundary and dividing Canada's waters, in this
case Alaska and American waters, to give us a much better and clearer positioning internationally is critical. We are
encouraged by the discussions to date but, having said that, we know it has been a long-standing issue. I am pleased to
say that Prime Minister Harper's government also allows input from the Yukon in matters such as this, as I know they
allow input from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in matters in their particular area offshore.
Senator Lang: I would like to move to another area, and it is the question of the search and rescue, SAR, that you
mentioned earlier. As you know, the SAR organization is located in the southern part of Canada and is a long way
away from where any mishap or disaster may occur. Subsequently, the issue has come up repeatedly of whether or not
such a responsibility should be centred more in the North than in the South. Perhaps you can expand further on that as
Mr. Fentie: When considering what is happening in today's North and as we look into the future what all this means
is that establishing a SAR centre or centres across the North will be very important. For example, with development
and the amount of traffic, considering that in many cases the only mode of transportation from A to B anywhere in the
Territories, especially outside the Yukon, is by air, it is critical that SAR is able to respond as quickly as possible
should a mishap take place.
With the situation developing in the Northwest Passage and all that goes with that, establishing SAR centres across
the North is critical. However, it also clearly represents that the nation, and Canada, is putting its footprint on the
ground in the North by committing to these types of initiatives and putting these types of centres in Northern Canada.
When you consider that Comox, British Columbia, is the point of contact today, it would make quite a difference if the
point of contact were Inuvik or Whitehorse or Iqaluit for SAR in Canada.
Senator Lang: I would like to go back to the rangers and the cadets, both the army and air force cadets, and what is
available in the North. Perhaps you could expand further on that, its importance to our communities and the
importance of the expansion of those particular programs.
Mr. Fentie: Beyond the visible and optical benefits from having these important groups established in the North and
in the Yukon, we have to recognize the role they can play, even in SAR, for example, or in better on-the-ground
monitoring and what is happening in Northern Canada. We have to recognize and remember that we are a land base of
vast distances, with a small population and limited footprint on that vast land base. The role that the Canadian
Rangers and the cadets can play in enhancing them and letting them grow into what is transpiring in the North and
what is ahead of us is as important as establishing those centres for SAR. We have something on the ground today that
if appropriately enhanced and increased in terms of their abilities could fill a void and a gap in many areas on the
ground in today's Yukon and in today's North.
Senator Patterson: Premier Fentie, I want to take a quick moment to congratulate you on bringing the three
territorial premiers together to great effect. You were the lead on that initiative, and it has had great benefits to the
three Northern territories. I am happy that we have you presenting today.
I would like to follow up on Senator Lang's comments about search and rescue and your observation that bases
could be relocated in the North. Would you see a role for the private aviation industry in the North? We know that the
Canadian Air Force is dealing with aged aircraft right now. Their Buffalo aircraft based in Comox were really due to
retire in 2010, and I believe they are on life-support still.
Do you think that the northern aviation industry might be able to provide equipment and infrastructure support for
SAR in the North?
Mr. Fentie: That is a fair and a good question. First, some of the greatest experience in aviation in the North is in the
private sector. There is no doubt about that. If you also use the example of medevacs, the private sector already does
that. It is not a large leap to go from where we are already today in the private aviation sector in the North into a role
in search and rescue. In many cases, for example, when a plane has been lost or has not reached its destination, private-
sector aviators and those who have planes who know the country and the flight paths are used from time to time. It is
not a big stretch to incorporate a model that may include the private sector in the North when it comes to SAR.
Senator Patterson: As we look at sovereignty in the North, I am sure you would agree that communications is an
important aspect for Canada to maintain and enhance its sovereignty in the North. As we look at further military
initiatives in Northern Canada and the expansion of the military presence — the plans for a naval refuelling facility in
Nanisivik, Nunavut, and a training base in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, for example — do you see potential for working
with the military to improve communications, not just for the military but also for territorial governments and
communities? Could you tell us a bit about the progress you are making on broadband and Internet capacity in the
Yukon and how that might be expanded with partners?
Mr. Fentie: I did touch on the issue of communication as an essential item of Arctic security and sovereignty. Let me
expand on that. Beyond PolarSat, RADARSAT and so forth, there is great opportunity to create a critical mass with
the private sector and the military in terms of communications infrastructure.
For example, in today's Yukon, with a good partnership with our federal government, with Northwestel Inc. — the
company of record here that provides areas of communication — and the Yukon government, we have invested heavily
in infrastructure that has now resulted in high-speed internet for all Yukon communities. However, I think there is a
void here that we should also recognize, and that is that we do not have a closed loop. Failures of the system or the
infrastructure can result in no communications from time to time. We are considering how we might, on an east-west
basis north of 60, interconnect and make our communications systems more effective and efficient. It also includes the
Alaskans and linking the loop down the Pacific seaboard so that, regardless of what happens on any end of this loop,
communications are still open. That is an essential question to be resolved when you look at Arctic security and
sovereignty and how communications will affect that.
Senator Pépin: Mr. Premier, in your view, are the Canadian Rangers adequately trained and equipped to deal with
security situations in the Arctic? If not, what do they need to be able to respond adequately?
Mr. Fentie: The status of our rangers today, for the duties that they perform, is very adequate. These are people who
are more than prepared to enhance their performance through training, better and improved equipment and so forth to
be able to play an even more enhanced and effective role.
When you consider the vast distances, the many river systems and the way people are spread out across this vast land of
ours in the North, the rangers, along with other elements of SAR, can play a more effective and enhanced role. It would
not take much investment or training to move the rangers upward toward a more important and meaningful role in certain
areas out in our land base.
Senator Day: It would be helpful for us to understand, Mr. Premier, the type of planning you are doing for potential
security challenges. How frequently are you meeting with the different government departments? What kind of
stockpile of equipment do you have to handle emergencies, and what do you see as the major challenges?
I am a long way from the Yukon where I live in New Brunswick, but we have many similar challenges in terms of
potential mining disasters. You also have a long coastline and a lot of tourism. How are you doing in terms of planning
for that kind of potential challenge?
Mr. Fentie: We must recognize two particular tracks. First, in many areas, the Yukon has devolved, and that
devolution means responsibility is now vested with the Yukon government. When it comes to mining, for example, we
have established a mine rescue and safety program and equipment and elements, and there is an overall plan. We have
taken on firefighting in the summer months in the fire season, another essential area critical to public safety in the
Yukon. That is totally within our area of responsibility now.
Senator Day: Those are forest fires?
Mr. Fentie: Yes, we fight our own forest fires.
When it comes to air traffic, by working with Transport Canada, we have dramatically enhanced security at the
Whitehorse International Airport. Of course, when we cross our border with the State of Alaska, we all recognize that
the Americans have become much more rigid and strident in how they deal with border crossings. We have come a long
way, but in the context of Arctic security and sovereignty, I am sure much more can be done.
Senator Day: Are there any gaps that you would like to point out for us as a committee as we look into this? Are
there any challenging areas for which you feel you could get more support?
Mr. Fentie: There is an umbrella that we should look at as to where the gaps exist in the immediate and into the mid-
term. It has to do with climate change, and it is the issue of adaptation. We must be better at adapting to the impacts
that we are experiencing in the North, such as melting permafrost, evasive species, the opening up of the Northwest
Passage and the melting of Arctic ice. These are areas that we continue to work on and, in all likelihood, could find
more ways of enhancing our ability to close those gaps.
Here is a great example that is international in nature. Our relationship with the Americans has resulted in millions
of dollars invested in the North Alaska Highway, Haines Road into Haines, Alaska, and the South Klondike Highway
into Skagway, Alaska. That gives decent highway access all the way from the lower 48 states to the State of Alaska. It
gives us access to tidewater, both at Haines and Skagway, and that is all American money, by the good graces of the
federal government in Washington and the support we have received from the State of Alaska. It is an example of an
international arrangement that contributes to Canada's Arctic security and sovereignty, and it is investment in
transportation infrastructure, bridges and highways.
The Chair: I have a couple of follow-up questions on things that were noted before. You talked about RADARSAT
and PolarSat. By that, I take it you mean that you are working quite cooperatively with National Defence, DND. Are
there actual civilian benefits on the ground?
Mr. Fentie: My apologies; I cannot give you a concrete example of civilian benefit. Yes, we are working closely and
cooperatively. It is our belief that this will further enhance our abilities and capacity in communication.
The Chair: I have a follow up to Senator Day's question because we are looking at this from all three perspectives.
What do you see as being the biggest security threat? We have taken and heard testimony that the Russians are coming
again, or perhaps it will be smuggling, or maybe it is climate change, or maybe it is failed negotiations on borders with
other Arctic nations.
What do you see as the biggest security threat in the North?
Mr. Fentie: That is a difficult question because there are multiple areas that could be or are now possible threats. It
is hard to prioritize and put those in categories in an order that would create the biggest security threat.
The best way for me to respond to that is with the issue of the Beaufort Sea and offshore. We touched on the
negotiations that are taking place with the boundary. That is one. The other part of that is recognizing that a lack of
infrastructure in many areas could become a serious matter to Canada further establishing and enhancing its
sovereignty in the North. The front line in the North, when it comes to security and sovereignty, happens to be
northern people and their communities.
There is a big basket here, but if I was to pick one, it certainly would be the offshore issue and the Beaufort issue.
The Chair: Could you give us another 30 seconds on that?
Mr. Fentie: On the Beaufort and the offshore issues?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. Fentie: There is a lot of pressure to bear in that area. You mentioned the Russians. Thus far, they have taken the
step to drop the flag somewhere on the seabed, but we all know what is coming. The global demands for energy, for
example, will set this scenario up without a doubt. There is competition between us and the Americans for those
Our coastline, as I said, is thousands of kilometres long. What we do to establish our security and our sovereignty
out to that boundary point where the international waters start is critical. The pressure being brought bear is ever
increasing. When you couple that with the need for cultural and traditional use and occupancy, if you will, this is a
pressing issue, and I can see it is a priority issue for the nation.
The Chair: Thank you. That was most helpful.
Senator Dallaire: In 1987, a significant white paper under Perrin Beatty called for 1,000 troops to be moved into the
North and the building of a big base at Arctic Bay at that time and even the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines
to handle the northern region and the Arctic region. That was all scrapped.
Do you feel that we have lost time in relation to the deployment capabilities of the forces to reinforce our
sovereignty in that area? Should we maybe look at making an alliance with the Russians instead of considering them as
a sort of old Cold War opponent?
Mr. Fentie: First, let us consider your point about lost time. Governments make decisions and the results of those
decisions are sometimes are long lasting. The important issue on that matter is to look forward. I think we are heading
in the right direction, senator, with this overall vision of Arctic security and sovereignty. What happened in 1987
certainly may have an effect and impact today in 2010, but we must be conscious of paying close attention to what is
Second, on the matter of the Russians, the Yukon has now become more and more a member of the global
community. Collaboration — and, in many areas I guess the term is ``diplomacy'' — and diplomacy has always been an
effective tool. When you look at the Yukon itself as a member of the Arctic Council and the Northern Forum, we do
collaborate with many foreign countries such as Russia, for example the Sakha Republic and Kamchatka; Japan;
Norway; and the list go goes on. There is also the element of Aboriginal linkages and connections.
With respect to the Russians and other foreign countries, we need to ensure that, first, we establish exactly what
Canada defines as its area of sovereign interest and apply security to that. However, from there, how does that relate to
our overall position as a member of the international community?
The Chair: Thank you very much, premier. You have been terrific in answering our questions in such a focused way
because you knew our time was short. All the best to you with the Northern Premiers' Forum; I hope that work
Mr. Fentie: Thank you for having me. It was my pleasure.
The Chair: The Honourable Dennis Fentie is the premier of Yukon, a job he has held since 2002.
With us now also by video conference is Charlie Lyall, President and CEO of the Kitikmeot Corporation. The
corporation's mandate is to develop a strong economic base for that particular region of Nunavut by investing in
business ventures, which will lead to employment, training, business and other opportunities for Inuit.
Mr. Lyall has been involved in some of the contracts that are in place with the Canadian military. He lives in Nunavut,
I believe in Cambridge Bay, but he joins us today from Edmonton, Alberta.
We do appreciate you being here and giving us a northern voice as we continue to take testimony from a variety of
witnesses. Do you have an opening statement, Mr. Lyall?
Charlie Lyall, President and CEO, Kitikmeot Corporation: Yes, I do. My name is Charlie Lyall, and I am President
and CEO of the Kitikmeot Corporation of Nunavut. On behalf of President Charlie Evalik of the Kitikmeot Inuit
Association, KIA, and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., NTI, we are honoured to present this submission to your esteemed
Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.
I am one of the 33,000 Inuit who live in Canada's Arctic region. Inuit represent a vital part of the Canadian
northern heritage, one that has been kindly acknowledged by the Prime Minister and his government.
On our part, Inuit recognize that we are the most visible and important component of a true sovereign Canadian
presence in the North. In short, Inuit are and have been living on the front lines of Canadian sovereign, commercial
and defence interests in the Arctic since long before Confederation.
Many Inuit consider that Canadians may perhaps under-appreciate the supportive role that the Canadian military
have played in transforming our North. It is no coincidence that many communities in Nunavut, such as Cambridge
Bay, are co-located with North warning stations.
Inuit are regular and positive contributors to Canada's national defence. For 60 years, the Canadian Rangers have
served as the eyes and ears of the Canadian Forces throughout the North. The rangers are a flexible, inexpensive and
culturally inclusive way for Canada to show the flag in the North in a relationship that has been forged over half a
century. The rangers also encourage local leadership and capacity building in our community.
The Canadian military has also been an important client and partner to Inuit businesses. DND projects in Nunavut
have provided key opportunities for northerners to prove their worth both as employees and business owners. For
Inuit, an active military presence in the Arctic is vital and provides strong partnerships for its major projects. Two such
projects highlight this point as examples of when Inuit and DND have worked together as partners.
First, I will mention the DEW line — Distant Early Warning — cleanup. These radar stations were a proud symbol of
Canadian sovereignty and stewardship during their operational and decommissioning phases. NTI and DND
successfully negotiated an economic benefit agreement in 2001 for the DEW line cleanup that had provisions for
minimum Inuit content for employment and contracting, along with Inuit participation plans.
These resulted in training, employment and contracting for Inuit and our firms. It also allowed Inuit to develop their
capacity for northern contract work and to learn skills in site remediation and logistics for local construction. In
addition, it provided Inuit with important lessons used today in our negotiations with mining companies.
The second example is the North Warning System, NWS, operation and maintenance done through the Pan Arctic
Inuit Logistics Corporation's — PAIL — partnership with ATCO Structures & Logistics Ltd. through the Nasittuq
Corporation joint venture.
PAIL is an umbrella group for regional Inuit development corporations that represent the four Inuit land claim
settlement areas. The Nasittuq Corporation has operated and maintained a North Warning System since 1995, and
through PAIL's equity position, the corporation has returned many benefits to Inuit communities.
What about the future? Prime Minister Harper has called attention to the potential of the North, and in doing so he
has touched our hearts and inspired Inuit who are willing and prepared to meet the challenges of northern development
and to work as meaningful partners within Canada.
For instance, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association has pioneered the successful development of my Kitikmeot
Corporation, KC, and its group of companies. We are now involved in significant northern construction and operation
opportunities. We think that Inuit are now well positioned to participate in highly prospective gold, diamond and
other mining projects in the Kitikmeot region and elsewhere. These early stage projects have the potential to become
major contributors not just to the economic development of Nunavut but to Canada as a whole.
In addition to the KC group of companies, with the assistance and financial support of Indian and Northern Affairs
Canada — the INAC Major Resources and Energy Development Program, MRED — and more recently CanNor,
NTI and the Government of Nunavut, the KIA has pioneered the concept of the Nunavut Resources Corporation,
better known as NRC. It is designed to attain an equity interest in major northern infrastructure, including a possible
partial ownership in major projects.
These steps represent a new wave of sophisticated Inuit enterprises, one that may eventually allow Inuit to better
control development on their lands and to attract southern co-investment capital for infrastructure and project
NRC is a sign that Inuit are reaching out to the southern investment community to work with us as financial
partners to accelerate northern development opportunities. DND can continue to play a vital role in the fiscal and
corporate development process for Inuit. Large commercial airstrips that we construct in Nunavut, for instance, can
provide alternate landing and maintenance capabilities for commercial and military operations; so, too, for roads,
docks and ports. This is a case whereby Canadians strategic and sovereignty interests overlap with the aspirations of
local Inuit to better develop and control our lands.
Inuit consider that the lack of basic infrastructure, combined with long-standing limitations of access to investment
capital, to be the most significant barriers to northern development. Canada could play a major role in advancing its
sovereign interests and the economic interests of Inuit by accelerating military infrastructure projects in the North.
These should be considered as national investments, not just to secure sovereignty claims but to secure future economic
returns with benefits to Nunavut and all of Canada.
Inuit are aware that if we are to succeed in the economic advancement of Nunavut, we must support and develop a
range of tools, such as our economic development corporations and new vehicles such as the NRC, to encourage
investment for needed infrastructure. By working together as equal partners with DND, private developers, resource
corporations and the southern investment community we can make a difference, not just for Nunavut but for all of
We thank you for your interest in Nunavut and listening to us to better understand our opportunities and
aspirations. We look forward to taking our place proudly with all Canadians as we achieve interlinked brighter futures
for all our people.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Lyall. That was a good presentation.
When you talk to southern investors and you are looking for partners and cooperation there, do you make the
argument about sovereignty or security, or is it a straight business deal?
Mr. Lyall: When I talk to southern financial institutions and others, I like to include that sovereignty is a part of the
puzzle and part of the solution.
Senator Dallaire: Do you believe the rangers could be expanded more significantly to include an ability to monitor
on water areas, by providing them with small crafts, such as skiffs and so on, to fill that gap in the North?
Mr. Lyall: I honestly believe that would be the case, yes. Currently, most of the exercises and patrols are carried out
during the winter. There is the big event that happens every year in Eastern Arctic, but I believe that it should include
not just the Eastern Arctic but Nunavut as a whole.
Senator Dallaire: With the summer period being the most vulnerable to potential spills and so on, either putting the
rangers on board the Canadian Coast Guard, CCG, ships or providing them with boats that are significant enough
that they can monitor the area would be an option for their employment, would it not?
Mr. Lyall: Yes, it would be. I can think of two examples, one of which was when we had that person show up in
Grise Fiord in a little 18-foot boat. I cannot even remember what country he was from; but he showed up, and had the
Rangers been able to go out on the ocean, maybe he would have been prevented from coming into the country illegally.
Senator Dallaire: There was recently a decision to turn a potential national park into a zone that now permits
prospectors to go in. An Aboriginal band has protested that because it apparently came as a surprise. It is a plateau, and I
forget the name.
Are you familiar with that, and is that creating frictions up there by operating that way?
Mr. Lyall: I am not aware of the project you are talking about, sir. I do not know if that is in Nunavut.
Senator Dallaire: Thank you.
The Chair: I think it is in a different region.
Senator Patterson: I am very pleased to welcome Mr. Lyall to our committee. I would like to ask him about the
potential for mineral resource development in Nunavut, particularly in the Kitikmeot region, which is one of three
regions in Nunavut, as members know.
Could you talk a bit about the Bathurst Inlet Port and Road Project I know you have worked on for many years,
and how infrastructure such as that road would help lever economic and mineral development and make it feasible?
Mr. Lyall: The Bathurst Inlet Port and Road Project, BIPR, which I have been working on for about 15 years, would
open up the region for mining development. I can think of at least five projects it would support. It would support the
mining industry and also the communities by lowering the cost of fuel, which is very high in the region, as many people
probably know. We would do this by bringing bulk fuel from overseas into the port, and then dispense it from there to
the different communities in the region.
The road would enable us to bring concentrate out from some of the lead and zinc possibilities to a common port
and have it shipped overseas much more cheaply.
Senator Patterson: You have said that you consider mineral development to be a part of establishing sovereignty in
the region. I would like to ask you about the NWS contract, which I know Inuit companies have been involved in for
about six years, and about the DEW line cleanup, on which your Kitikmeot Corporation did extensive work.
Could you, first, give us an idea of how those contracts have allowed Inuit and businesses in your region to develop?
How do they work, and what capacity did you get as a result of those contracts?
Mr. Lyall: I will tell you about the one that I am familiar with, which is the DEW line cleanup. Kitikmeot
Corporation, was involved in that one. NTI, KIA and the Government of Canada were able to negotiate a minimum
percentage of Inuit to be employed — minimum Inuit contracting. That enabled us to train Inuit in different aspects of
the DEW line cleanup, such as enclose space cleanup and heavy equipment operating.
We did some very basic things, such as camp operations training, which enabled the Inuit to carry on the next year
as the project continued. We were able to carry on with the same group of Inuit, and they gained a vast experience in
jobs that they had never traditionally done before. They were just passed over previously. The result of the land claim
agreement was that it has become a standard.
Senator Patterson: I believe that the PAIL contract, which maintains NWS sites across the North from the Beaufort
Sea to Labrador, has been going for six years. I believe it is up for renewal now. I think Inuit participation in this
contract, even training of Inuit as helicopter pilots, was driven by the procurement provisions of the land claim agreement
As we look ahead to the renewal of that contract and to other federal initiatives in the North, including a new
training base in Resolute Bay, a naval fuelling facility in Nanisivik and even the High Arctic research centre in your
region, do you see the federal government continuing to be sensitive to their procurement obligations under the Inuit
land claims agreements — the preference that you spoke of that has led to such successes? Is the federal government
still sensitive to their obligations in that regard as we look forward?
Mr. Lyall: I wish I could say yes. However, we had to fight very hard this last time around about the Inuit content in
the actual contract of operating the NWS. We had a huge fight on our hands to ensure that the land claims agreements
were adhered to.
I wish and I hope that we do not have to continually fight to ensure that the land claim agreement is adhered to in
Senator Patterson: You talked about the Rangers being the eyes and ears of the North, and we know the traditional
work they have done. The Government of Canada has expressed concern about our capacity to deal with oil spill
cleanup in Arctic waters. SAR is also a concern to northern residents.
Can you see rangers with better training and maybe additional equipment playing a role in SAR or dealing with
environmental issues such as pollution or oil spill cleanup?
Mr. Lyall: Yes, I see a huge part for the rangers to play. They know the land; they have survived on that land for
thousands of years. If we did away with the rangers, I am afraid there would be many lives lost. As you say, with search
and rescue, they know the land and the weather — at least they used to know the weather until climate change started
happening. I would be very disappointed if there were a loss of the Canadian Rangers in the North.
Senator Patterson: I do not think there is any sentiment about that here. I am getting at whether you see an
expanded role for the Rangers. It seems that you clearly see one. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Following up on Senator Patterson's point, how was the issue of quota, or preferential hiring, resolved
with the land claims? You said you had a big fight on your hands and that you hope it does not work that way in the
future. Have you resolved this in the current negotiations?
Mr. Lyall: I cannot tell you whether it is completely resolved. We had our political bodies involved; and in business,
I am not so sure about that.
The Chair: You prefer not to have that.
Mr. Lyall: No.
The Chair: I cannot imagine why.
Senator Lang: I have a couple of questions on your observations about search and rescue. What are your thoughts
about the prospects in the future of relocating the responsibility for search and rescue in the North to a location in the
North, for example, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories or Yukon?
Mr. Lyall: It would be nothing but advantageous for search and rescue to be situated in the North, especially when
you consider the long flying time for an aircraft from Nova Scotia to Nunavut, especially in the winter when it is cold.
Time is of the essence when doing search and rescue in the North. For people in Iqaluit or Rankin Inlet or Cambridge
Bay, being able to search an area in a matter of hours instead of 24 hours would make a huge difference.
Senator Lang: I would like to move to another area. We are fortunate in Yukon to have a transportation system that
was largely driven by the construction of the Alaska Highway during World War II. That highway system throughout
our communities, except one, gives us goods and services delivered at more favourable costs and gives more access to
anyone living in the small communities.
I want to hear your observations for the long term, in particular in Nunavut, on a potential highway transportation
system. Given your location, would we have to look forever and a day to find coastal access for the summer months
and minimal highway transportation to the communities?
Mr. Lyall: It would be nice to be able to drive from my hometown of Taloyoak, Nunavut, to Edmonton or to
Yellowknife or even to Gjoa Haven on a highway. The cost of construction is the issue. Currently, I believe the cost of
constructing an all-weather road is $1 million per kilometre, which is prohibitive. Many communities are on islands. For
example, Cambridge Bay is on Victoria Island. What would we do in that case? Would we build a bridge? Would we build
ice roads for the winter or have ferries? A good start would be a good runway and lighting infrastructure for aircraft.
The Chair: This is the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. We have been hearing from
many people who live in the south about the reality of security issues facing the North. We have heard many different
suggestions of security issues, such as the Russians with their increased interest and activity, human smuggling,
terrorists coming across the border and climate change, to which you have referred. Given the full range of security
issues, not narrowing it to more strictly defined ones, how would you rank the issues that face Nunavut at this time in
terms of threats to security?
Mr. Lyall: I have never really thought about that question.
The Chair: You are a businessman.
Mr. Lyall: I am a businessman. I would think that there is cause for concern. As I mentioned earlier, a man came to
Grise Fiord in an 18-foot Lund, and I believe a couple of gang members were arrested on Victoria Island after they
came across the Northwest Passage. Yes, it is a concern, right down to people coming into the country illegally. Being
an ex-policeman, I can see that it would not be a problem for drug smuggling to start in the North and work its way
south. It is a concern.
The Chair: We have talked about the rangers, but what kind of other resources do you have to deal with such issues
at the front end?
Mr. Lyall: I do not know that I want to guess or try to figure that out. It will take a lot of resources. I am afraid that
just thinking about the drug issue will make it a major concern.
The Chair: Are you prepared or preparing for the climate change issues that you are seeing? Do you feel that the issue
is understood by the business community as well as the political community?
Mr. Lyall: Yes. As a business person, I am concerned. I believe we could do much more than we are doing now. As I
said, it is expensive to operate in the North.
The Chair: I appreciate those comments. I believe I speak for everyone here when I thank you for your insight into
living in the North. When we hear figures like $1 million per kilometre to build a road, we begin to understand some of
the issues you deal with. It is helpful for us to know.
We would, again, like to thank Charlie Lyall, President and CEO of Kitikmeot Corporation. Mr Lyall lives in
Nunavut and appeared by video conference from Edmonton today.